Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas is upon us

It's hard to believe that in only 8 days, our family will be celebrating together for Christmas. The tree has been trimmed and decorated lovingly with the (very few) ornaments we've gathered since moving in together 5 years ago.

As I do every year, I take the time to reflect on the meaning of Christmas. My family was never very religious, and my Moms' efforts to take us to church every Sunday were thwarted by my Dads' total disdain for organized religion. He has never been comfortable with those who trust so thoroughly in Gods' way - I'm not sure where that view comes from, but I should ask him one of these days.

So I grew up in a home where Christmas was a celebration more of family and love, rather than the birth of Jesus. This sometimes makes me uncomfortable, as I feel as though we're appropriating a religious holiday that has nothing to do with our own beliefs. However, each Christmas I go through the same motions, guilty of giving in to our consumerist drive (buying lights for the house, spending money on plastic toys from China, and filling the table with a ridiculous amount of food when so many others have nothing). These are things I WANT to change, and hope to change someday. In one of my favourite blogs (Click Here), a family learns how to simplify Christmas in a special way.

There is no denying that there is something magical about this time of year, if we take the time to peel off the layers of plastic trees, glittery lights and shopping malls. My favourite Christmas movie is called Prancer,
and features a young girl who is so passionate about Christmas that she inspires a whole town to rethink the true meaning of the day. It never fails that the movie ends and I am sobbing into my tissue (in my defense, this is a learned behaviour - both my parents cry at this movie as well). The most emotional part of the movie is when the girl's father reads Francis Church's 1897 editorial, in response to Virginia O'Hanlon's letter asking if Santa Clause is real:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

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